This study aimed to investigate association between communication about cancer care (CCC) and 1) psychological distress, 2) patient’s symptoms, 3) interference with aspect of patient’s life, among cancer patients undergoing radiation therapy.
Cancer patients aged 20 years or older were consecutively sampled when they started radiation therapy at two university hospitals in Japan. The patients were asked to complete self-administered questionnaires assessing psychological distress (Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale: HADS) and patient’s symptom and interference with aspect of patient’s life (M.D. Anderson Symptom Inventory). CCC, ad-hoc self-administered questionnaire contained following items: if medical staff asked you about symptoms at more than half of my appointments, if medical staff asked you whether you had as much information as you wanted about what the treatment is, and how it is given, short and long term side effect of treatment, if a staff member asked whether your appointments were scheduled at suitable days and times, if medical staff specifically if you would like a family member or friend to attend appointments and if your doctor specifically asked you whether you wanted to receive the treatment.
Two hundred and fifty-one patients returned their questionnaire. (Response rate: 65%) The mean (SD) and median age of the study population was 63.4(12) and 66 years, respectively. A multiple regression analysis revealed that CCC (whether you wanted to receive the treatment) was significantly associated with psychological distress (HADS > 10), fatigue, dry mouth and interference with general activity, mood, relationship with others, walking ability and enjoyment of life. CCC (long term side effect) was significantly associated with psychological distress (HADS >10). CCC (short term side effect) was significantly associated with walking ability.
Medical staff needs to check patient’s intention to cancer treatment to reduce psychological distress and interference with daily life.